NHS reliance on agency healthcare workers related to staff wellbeing and patient experience of care

The risks to care quality and  staff wellbeing  of  an NHS  system under pressure 2018  |  The Picker Institute Europe & The King’s Fund 

The Picker Institute Europe, a health and social care charity,  and The King’s Fund, an independent charity working to improve health and care in England have collaborated to produce a report focusing on NHS staff and patients’ experiences in hospitals and NHS trusts’ reliance on agency healthcare workers.

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The report reveals that there are relationships between staff wellbeing, patient experiences of their care, and the proportion of money NHS trusts spend on agency workers. In trusts where agency spend was higher as a proportion of overall pay, both staff wellbeing and patient experience were typically lower. The NHS provider sector spent £2.9bn on agency and contract staff in 2016/17.

The report also shows that spending more on agency staff has a negative association with patients’ experiences of their care.

The data focused on 134 general acute trusts in England. Specialist trusts were excluded as the nature of the care they provide cannot be directly compared to the care provided by general and acute trusts. The report analysed data from publicly available sources relating to the experiences of staff and patients at NHS Trusts, and on workforce and contextual variables.

The findings add to the developing picture of a NHS workforce that is under increasing stress, and demonstrate the risks to service quality as pressures rise. The report urges policy makers to understand that tackling workforce issues is not just a cost-cutting exercise, but it is also essential in order to maintain and improve the experiences and safety of people using healthcare services in England.

The authors of the report emphasise that their findings do not suggest that agency staff provide lesser care than permanent members of staff.

The full report can be viewed here 



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